Le­ices­ter City: Just Amaz­ing

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Le­ices­ter City have won the Premier League ti­tle in one of the great­est sport­ing sto­ries of all time. Tot­ten­ham’s 2-2 draw at Chelsea yes­ter­day confi rmed a stun­ning achieve­ment for Clau­dio Ranieri’s side. Le­ices­ter started the cam­paign as 5,000-1 out­siders for the ti­tle af­ter al­most be­ing rel­e­gated last sea­son.

But they have lost just three league games in what has been de­scribed as a “fairy­tale” and the “most un­likely tri­umph in the his­tory of team sport”.

Clos­est chal­lengers Spurs, Arse­nal, Manch­ester City, Manch­ester United and last year’s cham­pi­ons Chelsea, have all failed to match the Foxes’ con­sis­tency across the sea­son. Le­ices­ter City man­ager Clau­dio Ranieri said it was an “amaz­ing feel­ing” to have steered the club to the first top-flight ti­tle in their his­tory. Former Chelsea man­ager Ranieri, who took charge at the King Power Sta­dium in July 2015, said: “I’m so proud.

“The play­ers have been fan­tas­tic. Their fo­cus, their de­ter­mi­na­tion, their spirit has made this pos­si­ble.” Former Le­ices­ter, Ever­ton and Eng­land striker Gary Lineker de­scribed his home­town team’s achieve­ment as “the big­gest sport­ing shock of my life­time”. Lineker had sug­gested the Le­ices­ter play­ers were on the “edge of sport­ing im­mor­tal­ity” last month.

“I can’t think of any­thing that sur­passes it in sport­ing his­tory. It is dif­fi­cult to put over in words,” he said.

“I got emo­tional. It was hard to breathe. I was a sea­son ticket holder from the age of seven. This is ac­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble.” Af­ter Le­ices­ter drew 1-1 at Manch­ester United last Sun­day, Tot­ten­ham needed to win all three of their re­main­ing league games to catch the Foxes. But their ti­tle hopes were ended when they squan­dered a 2-0 lead to only draw at Lon­don ri­vals Chelsea. Former New­cas­tle United, Black­burn Rovers and Eng­land striker Alan Shearer said Le­ices­ter’s achieve­ment was “the big­gest thing ever in foot­ball”. Shearer, who won the Premier League in 1995 with un­der­dogs Black­burn, told BBC Sport: “For a team like Le­ices­ter to come and take the gi­ants on with their wealth and ex­pe­ri­ence- not only take them on but to beat them- I think it’s the big­gest thing to hap­pen in foot­ball.”

Gianni In­fantino, pres­i­dent of foot­ball’s world gov­ern­ing body Fifa, said Le­ices­ter’s “beau­ti­ful story” was a “fairy­tale”. The club was also quick to hail the achieve­ment of Ranieri and his play­ers, say­ing they “have cap­tured the imag­i­na­tions of foot­ball fans around the world with one of the most bril­liant and un­likely sport­ing tri­umphs ever seen”.

Sports data an­a­lysts say Le­ices­ter are set for a po­ten­tial £150m (F$356.87m) boost for win­ning the ti­tle, com­ing from Premier League prize money, Cham­pi­ons League par­tic­i­pa­tion cash, and in­creased match-day rev­enues from ticket and hos­pi­tal­ity sales.

Photo: BBC

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